Sunday, October 8, 2017

Early Fall 2017

Just a few wildflowers and other stuff from some recent walks around the farm or close by.
One new wildflower for my attempt to photograph and record every wildflower that I can in West Virginia. Mistflower, a member of the Aster family.
Wildflower season is quickly coming to a close.
# 359 - Mistflower Conoclinium coelestinum

                   Collinsonia canadensis    

           Citronella horsebalm, Richweed, Stoneroot

Yellow Jewelweed

Native Brook Trout "Brookie"
Catch and Release

Grandson enjoying the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory 
Looking for raptors after a long uphill hike


Nodding Ladies Tresses

Pawpaw in Fall colors
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?” 
― Robert Frost

Sunday, August 27, 2017

2017 Eclipse

Well, I confess, I was one of the millions of people who clogged the nations highways by traveling to an area of totality for the 2017 coast-to-coast total eclipse. I had been reading a great book called American Eclipse by David Barron and had learned a lot of new facts about eclipses. So, I wanted to be in an area of totality and at a higher elevation so I could possibly view the shadow racing across the landscape. I chose Tellico Plains Tennessee a four drive away and rural enough to maybe escape some of the crowds; but, was  I wrong about that.  I stayed Sunday night at a hotel 60 miles away and headed to Tellico before 6am. I kept seeing cow fields with 'eclipse parking $25' signs and scoffed at the idea that anyone would do that, but later that afternoon as I returned, I noticed that those same fields were full. For elevation I had decided to drive up the Cherohala Skyway until I found an overlook to the west. Traffic was light that early and I thought I had scored a crowd free area  until I arrived at the Turkey Creek overlook at 2600 feet in elevation. The lot was full, people were parking all over the road sides and three police cars were there to direct traffic. Even though it was 7 AM,  I had almost waited to long. Most people had stayed the night there and reserved sitting space. I parked on the shoulder of the road because I was afraid to drive further. There was a westerly view and I found a place to setup my chair with no view unless I was standing (and beside the restrooms where everyone going had to walk through my setup). The crowd was large and lively which made the hours pass quickly. I was in shade until noon but then the sun hit full blast and I had to hike back to the car for an umbrella. There was a lot of fancy equipment set up but I only had my iphone and Nikon DSLR. I had read about eclipse photography and knew there was precious little time to take pictures. I had downloaded an app that was supposed to take a series of pictures automatically for a research project, but I could not get it going.
           About two minutes before totality, we could see the shadow approaching and it was worth all of the trouble to be there. Then during totality I took several pictures of the eclipsed sun and tried a couple of different exposures on a tripod, but only had decent results. For one thing, it was dark, which made adjustments to the camera difficult. Plus, I wanted to heed the advice that I saw repeated a lot; 'put the equipment down and just look.' I did that for a while, but kept thinking, 'wow, i should take a picture of that.' The 2 1/2 minutes passed so quick, and the instant the sun peeped back from behind the moon, it was daylight again. I wish I had better pictures, but the experience was great.
(See Video of Shadow by clicking here)
Crowds at Turkey Creek Overlook on Cherohala Skyway
Panorama of the overlook and valley to the west
         The four hour trip home took 8 hours and was miserable. Even so, I am already making plans for 2024 when the closet place to view that event will be in Ohio.
Approach to Turkey Creek Overlook on the Cherohala Skyway

These three photos are screenshots of a video, it shows the shadow
approaching from the west and covering us within a minute, turning daylight to dark..

Crane Flys

Crane Fly Orchid

On a trip to Charleston, WV to watch a grandkid play baseball, I had the opportunity to hike through Little Creek Park. I have found some new flowers there in the past and enjoy this opportunity to hit the trails in a very urban area. I quickly spotted Crane Fly Orchids in bloom. After some pictures I continued and saw these unusual orchids all along the trail I was on for a mile or more. I spotted a box Turtle, Starry Campion, strange mushrooms and others. 

Crane Fly Orchid
Crane Fly Orchids

Eastern Box Turtle- Although mostly terrestrial,
this turtle is in the pond turtle family

Starry Campion

Friday, August 4, 2017

Amazing Color - Summer Orchids

Amazing Orchids and more from a walk around the farm. 

Each was from damp or wet areas. 

                 Purple Fringless Orchid

                  Yellow Fringed Orchid

         #358 - Clammy Hedge-hyssop   Gratiola neglecta

A new wildflower for this blog where I am finding, photographing and identifying as many Wildflowers as I can

Steeplebush - A Native Spirea That Likes Wet Feet 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pipestem State Park Hike

# 357 - Nodding Onion
While at a conference at Pipestem State Park in Southern WV, I hiked a trail described as the toughest in the park. It had steep swith backs which climbed 860 feet in the first 3/4 mile and then leveled out on a ridge for a couple miles before descending back down to the river.
I saw several wildflowers, including a new one.

The first is Nodding Onion,  Allium cernuu. It is related to Ramps.

Nodding Onion
Nodding Onion
I found a False Foxglove, but did not pay enough attention to decide if it is the Downey or Smooth Variety. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

More Summer Orchids

353 - Club Spur Orchid
 A week ago, I was at a site for Bentleys Coralroot, One of the rarest Orchids in America. See that post here.
While there, I found what I suspected was Club Spur Orchid Platanthera clavellataalso know as Small Green Wood Orchid and  Small Woodland Orchid. Even though the site is 70 or so miles from home, I knew I had to be there to see it in bloom. So, today was the day. The first two I saw were still not in bloom and it required a considerable hike to find some opened up. But the bonus was I found Spotted Coral Root, another new wildflower for this blog. 
(See Below)  

Two new Orchids in one day for this blog
Club Spur Orchid
Club Spur Orchid

Club Spur Orchid

 I had seen Spotted Coral Root at this site several years ago but could not find them again for this blog, where I am trying to find and photograph as many of West Virginia's wildflowers as possible.
354 - Spotted Coralroot

Rattlesnake Orchid
This site is one of the most prolific orchid sites that I know of. Many Rattlesnake Orchids were in bloom. I saw old Pink Lady Slippers, Showy Orchis and there has to be others. I found quite a few Yellow Fringed Orchids just beginning to bloom. 

Yellow Fringed Orchid 
just beginning to bloom.

Last Tuesday, I was at a site on New River looking along a forest service road for what I could find.
The first is a new one, Leaf-Cup -Polymnia canadensis 
355 - Leaf Cup

Another new flower found that day is Winged Monkeyflower - Mimulus alatus 
It is similar in appearance to Mimulus ringens (Allegheny Monkeyflower) and it occurs in the same habitats. Winged Monkeyflower differs in this manner 1) Its flowers are often pink rather than blue-violet, 2) Its leaves have narrowly winged petioles about ½" long or more, while Mimulus ringens has sessile leaves, and 3) The pedicels of its flowers vary in length from nearly zero to ½" in length, while Mimulus ringens has pedicels that are greater than ½" in length.

356 - Winged Monkeyflower
Winged Monkeyflower

Bee Balm or Bergomont
Dolls Eyes fruit Actaea pachypoda

Ragged Fringed Orchid